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Last edit of this page 07/05/2012
1.0 Introduction to the quiz
Women who sense future problems while they are courting generally find out after they are married that their concern was well-founded. From the PAIR project, below.
Some of these red lights predict trouble ahead at the outset of a relationship:
- rigid beliefs
- unwillingness to accept influence from the other
- walking away from disagreements.
Note: some of each of these traits can be good for a relationship. It is a matter of degree, how it is expressed and whether any of these already cause you trouble in the relationship.
These same issues, out of balance, will likely signal trouble in an ongoing relationship as well.
Here are recommendations for a stable marriage each of which are of research proven efficacy.
More can be found in both Larson and Gottman's books and in these articles collected on site.
Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient is also an important place to start any kind of interpersonal or values questionnaire. Peruse this on-line EQ survey and you will understand how it influences what you perceive is important in a relationship.
Then try this relationship compatibility questionnaire as a warm up.
Work toward a consensus with the sample of statements dot pointed below.
There are no generally right or wrong answers below and circumstances change how we perceive the issues.
However, one coercing or the other faking agreement in order to keep the peace and make for 'happy families' or either skating over the surface of the question or assuming they don't apply are not good plans at the outset and ongoingly in a lasting commitment.
The more items in the statements below on which you and your partner cannot develop a consensus, the more ongoing relationship work you will have to do managing the adverse consequences.
Sounds too simple? Terminal relationship issues are that predictable.
Consensus is an ongoing process. It means the dissenters' perspective is embraced and this inclusion gives confidence in bearing the costs of change. Consensus means a decision is made that both can live with.
'The person who cares the most will always be the most prepared to compromise.' In other words, 'any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.' Livingston
60% of divorces occur in low conflict marriages. Conflict avoidance is a predictor of trouble, which may or may not lead to separation depending on the conflicted issue and how it is avoided.
Conflict about children, sex and money are ultimately unavoidable but they are deniable for decades, until they crash your life.
Conflict prevention is altogether another matter.
Each of the statements below are like a leading edge. THEY GROW. Over time and unmanaged, conflict grows in its size, reach and power. Caught in the first three years of a committed relationship with pre-marriage education and coaching, these have little power to consume a relationship.
When conflict is ignored, the issues can become predictions like: 'I know what you're going to say' or 'Of course you'd do that' or 'There's no point discussing it' or 'We never get anywhere with this so let's just forget it'. By then each person has invested more and more in maintaining and defending their version of the issue.
In this way, two movies of the one relationship are scripted and played out, each sure they have the right one.
1.3 The sample 15 item quiz
The more of the following questions or statements that you disagree over, the greater the challenges you will face in your marriage:
- Being married is the first or second most important thing in life.
- Mothers have more natural ability than fathers in relating to infants.
- Married couples do not need to share many hobbies with each other.
- Sexual intercourse in marriage is a key to marital satisfaction.
- Sharing my feelings and concerns about our relationship with family and friends is OK.
- Money may not buy happiness in a family but it does help.
- A couple should delay having children until other important issues are worked out.
- Relationships are unpredictable.
- When I'm upset with my partner I ignore him or her for a while.
- Time will resolve any problems we have as a couple.
- It is important for a husband and wife to have many of the same friends and to like each other's friends.
- Husbands and wives should both look carefully for bargains before buying something they want.
- It is important to me that my family has the finer things in life.
- People get stuck in marriage.
- In my marriage it would not bother me if the wife earned more than the husband. From 'Should We Stay Together' by Jeffry Larson.
2. Five types of marriage and the divorce risk of each
Here are some patterns describing ordinary marriages. Of course some relationships are a pure type but most contain a bit of each at varying times in their life cycle and each may change 'For Better or For Worse'
- 'The Pursuer-Distancer Marriage. A "tug-of-war over communication and intimacy," this marriage is a contest between an aloof partner and a pursuer of intimacy. It is the most prevalent type - and has the highest rate of divorce. It requires the fuser-isolator pattern to operate repetitively. More on this pattern on site.
- The Disengaged Marriage. Each partner is stridently independent, placing a low priority on intimacy. The marriage is vulnerable to divorce (second-highest failure rate) because both feel they could live equal or better lives alone.
- The Operatic Marriage. Emotional volatility, tumult, and passion mark these unions. Operatic couples often say hateful things to each other and can be prone to violence. This type of marriage has the third-highest divorce rate.
- The Cohesive/Individuated Marriage. This marriage is marked by intimacy, gender equity, shared domestic duties, and a hefty dose of freedom. It "functions like a refuge ... for renewal, support, affection, and companionship". It has the second-lowest divorce rate.
- The Traditional Marriage. Men and women have distinct roles, usually that of "breadwinner" and "homemaker." This marriage can stumble if one partner breaks with tradition but it has the lowest divorce rate.
3. Study of courtship and early marriage
The findings of the PAIR project of 167 couples begun in 1969, are worth a read if you have the time. It is the only large-scale social psychological study of courtship and early marriage that has ever been done.
- Women who sense future problems while they are courting generally find out after they are married that their concern was well-founded.
- Couples who are particularly lovey-dovey as newlyweds are likely to divorce.
- Whether a marriage will be happy or whether it is headed for the divorce court can be foretold from how things go during its first two years.
- Men with traits stereotyped as "feminine" make better husbands.
- The extent of differences in tastes and ideas among couples does not predict divorce.
- Some couples bury their concerns over such differences; others brood over them.
- Those who brood are more likely to divorce.
- Anxiety, moodiness, and emotional swings in the wife or the husband do not pre-ordain divorce, but they are related to unhappiness in marriage.
- The birth of a child transforms couples' lifestyles, but it does not change the feelings husbands or wives have about each other.
- Here is a marriage quiz based on their findings. If link broken download here.
4. Other Resources
Archive of 8 articles on marriage research on site.
This interview with Susan Heitler and her web site.
Gottman's marriage tips and his marital house model are complementary places to start.
A Review of the book 'Love That Lasts' has 10 keys including 'be alert, some of the best things in marriage are often hidden'.
Articles including 'Don't Get Married if .... ' for example, 'If you don’t really know each other as persons, or don’t relate to each other’s ideas, even though you have spent a great deal of time together' or 'If you’re feeling pressured by your partner to get married.'
Prepare-Enrich Australia and Anglicare pre marriage education sites. Relationship evaluation questionnaire free on-line. Marriage encounter world wide. Marriage education and enrichment web sites. Moderated forums at marriage builders.
Searchable database of the smart marriage site archives (1999 to the present).
What to look for in pre-marital preparation courses on the stay-hitched site.
5. Some Books
- 'The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say I Do' by Susan Piver (2000) - simple and clear
- 'Marital Myths Revisited' by Arnold Lazarus (2001) - get clear on your expectations.
- "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson is my number 1 recommendation.
- "Communication Miracles for Couple's" by Jonathan Robinson is my number 2 recommendation.
- 'The Power of Two: Secrets of a Strong & Loving Marriage' also a 'Workbook' by Susan Heitler - conflicts can resolve
- 'The heart of commitment.' by Scott Stanley. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1998)
- 'Schopenhauer's Porcupines - Intimacy and its dilemmas' Deborah Anna Luepnitz 2002 - profound wisdom.
- 'Grow up! how taking responsibility can make you a happy adult' by Frank Pittman New York: Golden Books (1998) - opinionated and thought provoking on everything from sex to raising responsible kids and leaving home.
© Ziji Fox 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 All Rights Reserved www.peterfox.com.au